The Thanksgiving Service last Sunday was a great reminder of all we have to be thankful for. And not just what but who we need to put first...Jesus. This is How we Do it.
The first week of the series, Pastor Juan talked about Generosity and How to put God first with his blessings. Then the following week we talked about how in order to put God first, we must be our authentic selves, because God cannot elevate or bless who we pretend to be. Then, two weeks ago we learned to put God first by demonstrating a genuine faith, and keeping a heavenly perspective in the midst of trouble and tribulation.
The series was wrapped up at our Thanksgiving Service with talking about putting God first by thanking Him first.
It’s important to remember that:
Your perspective determines your attitude of thankfulness.
People who are never happy or satisfied have a perspective problem. Their perspective is always thwarted by their negativity. People who are always grateful carry a perspective of contentment. They always revert to where they used to be, and compare it with where they are now. Those who are always negative, usually, have selective amnesia because they only remember the bad and never remember the good.
The hardest thing we can experience in our faith journey is learning to recognize the hand of God. Not so much in the BIG things, but in the small, and insignificant things.
Are you recognizing the hand of God in the small things? How have you seen the hand of God in your life lately?
There’s a story in the bible that speaks on the subject of thanksgiving. Unfortunately, some people don’t celebrate thanksgiving, they celebrate thanks-taking.
So, the question is: WILL YOU BE THE ONE?
Take a look at LUKE 17:11-19 MSG
11-13It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14-16Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan. 17-19 Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”
For the Hebrews, leprosy was a dreaded sickness which rendered its victims ceremonially unclean—that is, unfit to worship God (Lev. 13:3).
Anyone that came in contact with lepers were also considered unclean. Therefore, lepers were isolated from the rest of the community so that the members of the community could maintain their status as worshipers.
This was Not the case with Jesus. He didn’t make that distinction between clean an unclean in the way he treated these individuals. A person’s outward condition did not make someone unclean but rather that which proceeds from the heart determines a persons standing before God. Therefore, Jesus did not hesitate about touching lepers and even commanded His disciples to cleanse lepers. Jesus even made a leper the hero of one of His parables in Luke 16:19–31.
Can you imagine being isolated and stripped away from everything you hold dear? Everything that is important to you. You can’t work. You can’t function right in society. You can’t have human contact because you were deemed unclean and unworthy. You even got ripped away from people and God and left to die to your condition. It was the epitome of hopelessness.
There’s a story of Francis of Assisi who was terrified of leprosy. One day on the narrow path that he was traveling, he saw in the bright sunlight what he thought was a leper! Instinctively his heart shrank back. He suffered and recoiled at the thought of the contamination of that loathsome disease. But then, ashamed of himself, he ran and cast his arms around the sufferer’s neck, kissed him and passed on. A moment later he looked back, and there was no one there, only the empty road in the hot sunlight. All his days thereafter he was sure it was no leper, but Christ Himself whom he had met. (G.K. Chesterton)
In the story, Jesus took a good look at these men, and said to them… “go show yourself to the priest.”
In order to restore these men back to society, they needed the priest to determine that they were purified to go back to worship and get clearance.
Faith in action is going where God tells you to go, even though your circumstances haven’t changed yet. WHY?! Because Jesus said so…
These leprous men went on the word of Jesus though their circumstances hadn’t changed yet.
You cannot be grateful if you don’t take time to reflect.
The problem we have in this culture is that it moves SO fast, that we don’t have time to reflect. So, our thankful meter is often shortened to one day of the year.
What if we take time to reflect every day. “Be still and know that I am God!”
Get to know the God that heals. Know the God that is generous. And know the God of hope. If we just take time to be still and to know who God is and what he has done, gratefulness will emanate from the deepest part of our soul!
There were ten lepers, but only one reflected. Only one said, “hold on a minute.… I can’t just keep walking. I can’t just keep going and not worship God. I can’t just ignore the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
He came back worshipping. He didn’t allow the norms of the society that said, I need to be cleared by the priest in order to worship. He realized at that moment, all he needed was to worship with a thankful heart. All he needed to worship was Jesus!
At that moment, he remembered that not too long ago he was on the side of a road begging for his life!! He couldn’t touch anyone. He couldn’t worship. All he could do is scream from the top of His lungs, “Jesus!! Have Mercy on me!”
Some of us have reduced thankfulness to material things.
We can’t be thankful, because We don’t have the material blessings that others have. Our material perspective, has thwarted our spiritual reflection.
Don’t let your material perspective thwart your spiritual reflection.
We cannot afford to forget that at one time in our lives we were all leprous!! That leprosy is called sin. We couldn’t get close to Jesus because we thought we were unworthy and unclean. But when we shouted the name of Jesus, he came to us and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. Jesus turned around and cleansed us from the sting of sin and death.
One way to show our thankfulness is REFLECTING.
Reflecting helps you realize how Good God is!
“One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back…”
Another is WORSHIPING.
Thanksgiving is synonymous to worship.
“One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful.”
Another way is CONTENTMENT.
“He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan. 17-19 Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?”
This Samaritan man was not focused on his status in society, rather, he was focused on his status with Jesus. Everyone else kept going because they wanted to show themselves to the priest, and restore their societal status. This Samaritan man was in the moment! He slowed down. He reflected, he worshiped and he was content in the presence of Jesus!
Contentment is a learned behavior:
…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation… 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
Being content is trading your earthly motivation for your heavenly purpose.
JESUS: “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”
Let’s continue with a thankful attitude throughout the year, giving praise to God for His goodness. Even in times of struggle, we have much to be thankful for.
Join us Sunday as we start our Christmas series. This is an exciting season and we are so blessed to celebrate with you. Bring a friend at 10:15 am Sunday!
(Mark 7:1–23; cp. Acts 10:9–16).